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Melodrama in Media

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Sheena Desai

on 17 February 2014

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Transcript of Melodrama in Media

Melodrama in Media Events
* Countless Americans lost their jobs, their homes and life as they knew it. This all contributed to the
vast suffering of many virtuous American families.

--> The media and documentaries depicted the "American Dream" being
unjustly ripped away from Americans
as if they were being
denied the American ideals of freedom and mobility brought about by modernity.

* As Anker highlighted in her article, Americans deeply value ideals like the
"elusive value of freedom",
so when the financial crisis threatened this the media made it seem
as if all American people were victimized.
In this way, the media's melodramatic approach to reporting the crisis
"produced a mode of national identity".

* Greedy bankers, wealthy C.E.Os of large corporations and corrupt regulators on Wall Street were
named the enemy
by many media outlets and documentaries, such as
Inside Job
. Time Magazine even published an article titled
"25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis".

* Anker claims that
"American melodrama creates a moral obligation for state action".
After the crisis, there were loud cries for policies creating tighter economic regulation and inspection of banks.


“For the children the innocence has been torn from them too early... I know there’s not a parent in America who feels the same overwhelming grief as I do.” - ABC News Reporter
--> Americans value family and the innocence of children. When the shooting happened the media
highlighted that
all Americans suffered "overwhelming grief"
for not only the lives lost that day but also for the
shattering of innocence.

The media underlined the heated debates over gun control and the fact that gun owners were under fire after the shooting. Guns and those affiliated with them were thus
"named the enemy".
--- "Why the hell can you buy a weapon of mass destruction, that's what it is - that's the first thing that should be gone" - Whoopi Goldberg on ABC News

The melodramatic
"call for state power":
Tighter regulation of firearm sales
--> “State power is an unquestionable moral imperative in fighting the enternal battle
between evil and good" (Anker, 36).

1) The Dharun Ravi V.
New Jersey Trial

2) The "Ground Zero" Mosque
#1 The Financial Crisis of

#2 Sandy Hook Elementary
School Shooting

Rutgers student Dharun Ravi used a webcam to view a private romantic encounter between his roommate Tyler Clementi and another man. After this initial incident, Ravi urged friends and Twitter followers to come watch a second encounter between the two men, though the viewing never occurred. Shortly afterward, Tyler Clementi committed suicide. Ravi was tried and convicted on 15 counts of crimes including
invasion of privacy
bias intimidation.

“Race became legible as a mute melodramatic sign - whether of guilt or innocence - just as Rodney King’s race became an issue, from the moment he became a fugitive from justice.” (Williams, 266)
--> In this case it wasn't Tyler Clementi's race, but
his sexual orientation
that made
his innocence
and moral goodness legible. LGBT individuals have historically been discriminated against by Americans just as whites have been historically insensitive to whites.
Those in support of harsh punishments for Ravi and retribution for Clementi
highlighted his sexuality to derive melodramatic power for his case.

The media used the Ravi trial as a way to bring national attention to the issues of cyberbullying and the struggles of the LGBT youth in America. Like the OJ Simpson trial, this trial failed entirely to be "colorblind".

President Obama used melodrama to create a
mode of national identity
when identifying Sandy Hook as a tragedy endured by
"the nation"
and not just by those in Newport, Connecticut:
"Any of these neighborhoods could be our own.”
He also calls for
state action:
"We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on guns so easily".
“I fault the economic philosophy that Senator McCain subscribes to.

It’s the philosophy that
says we should give more and more to those with the most and let it trickle down...
When subprime mortgage lending
took a reckless
and unsustainable turn, a patchwork of regulators
deliberately eliminated
the regulations that protected the American people...

I am running for President of the United States because
the dream of the American people must not be endangered anymore.

President Barack Obama
when confronting the crisis on national T.V.
Ravi was also blasted in the media for his
"unsympathetic" demeanor
during interviews. This ties into Williams discussion about "race demeanor" and how analyzing the demeanor of the defendant makes jury trials "a form of popular entertainment". People believed "the power of demeanor to reveal a perceptibly visible truth" about Ravi (Williams, 267).
By deeming it the "Ground Zero Mosque",
the media made it seem like the mosque would be built right on top of or next next to Ground Zero
, and that it would only be used for religious purposes. The building is actually called Park51 and will be open to the general public as a recreational, educational and community center.

Those who opposed the mosque
adopted a sentiment similar to the “anti-tom” sentiment Williams describes that whites developed against blacks, who whites associated with sexual predators of innocent females.
Opponents of the mosque associated the Islamic advocates of the mosque with the terrorists of 9/11.

To protestors,
the race of those who wanted to build Park51 was a melodramatic sign of their inherent guilt.
To them, the building of the mosque
symbolized an intrusion on their home or idyllic "space of innocence".

#1 The Food Industry and It's Causal Relationship with Obesity in America
- Food manufacturers, in their quest for higher profits, sacrifice both food quality & nutrition with no regard to its debilitating effects on the health of consumers
#2 Mistreatment of Women in Indian Society
- Gang rapes in India are making frequent headlines even today
- India's tradition gender roles for women encourage them to be silent, docile and restricted to domestic work.
- Prejudice against women is rooted in Indian culture

about healthy living & nutrition!
PERSONAL CONNECTION: As an Indian female with family who grew up in India and experienced discrimination firsthand, this issue hits close to home
Full transcript